Wahoo. After learning how to read (Adler), and then not read (Bayard), and then to synthesise what we have or haven’t read in some useful way (Rowntree), we now get to think about what we have or haven’t read, in a critical way (Elder). So, after zipping through Paul and Linda Elder’s Critical Thinking: Concepts & Tools I became aware that I am not only critically thinking about the book itself, I also need to critically think about my own critique. Likewise, when reading other critiques of Critical Thinking, there is the need to critique the critique itself, while simultaneously being self-critical of my own critique of a third-party critique. If I do not, then my own uncritiqued prejudices may stand in the way of a useful dialectic that could result in a less-than-useful biased understanding of the material being critically considered.
I must say this doctoral research can be headache inducing.
The opening page of Critical Thinking presents the above more straightforwardly.
“Critical thinking is, in short, self-directed, self-disciplined, self-monitored, and self-corrective thinking. It requires rigorous standards of excellence and mindful command of their use. It entails effective communication and problem solving abilities and a commitment to overcoming our native egocentrism and sociocentrism.” 
As this mini book makes clear, it is a guide to a larger text and should be carried as a sort of quick reference to critical consideration. Personally, I found the book plunged me into the murky depths of my university’s Logics department that was a requirement of my philosophy studies. I didn’t like Logics then, and I still don’t have any great affection for it now; as essential as it might be. The pinpoint critiques of various conference papers on the topics like, “Does the Chair Exist” had me yearning for the immediate return of Jesus. Though I agree with the Elder’s on precision, relevance, depth, breadth, significance and fairness as reasonable measures of critical thinking in most research; their addition of ‘logic’ is curly one for me. There is no specific theory of logic and how it works, and even a simple understanding of it will leave a person almost incapable of making a reasoned critique because the logic of the critique is always questionable. I prefer rationality. In colloquial terms rational and logical are used as synonyms, but they really are quite different. Rationality requires emotion and experience, whereas logic doesn’t. It’s entirely possible for logic to conclude an outcome that is ethically irrational. Though I understand why the Elders use it for critical thinking in the sciences, I am uncomfortable with its use in the humanities.
Given that I have a penchant for dismissing things I dislike before engaging with them, the book reminded me that egocentric and sociocentric considerations fundamentally shape the way we think about, and articulate, our view of the world. They are what psychologists, and Christians spiritual writers, refer to as the “unconscious avoidance of light in our own lives, because we fail to see it in others”. To be honest, I often read books that are not my preference because they look good in the bibliography and make it appear that I have been fair and reasonable in my critique, but all too often I haven’t really engaged with their arguments because I have fixed viewpoint that I would rather not let go. This is especially true when it comes to theology, sociology, culture and gender. Philosophy is simple because it debates the intangible; however, the previous topics cut to the heart of who I am in the world and how I live with and respond to the people around me. To put it in a more Gospel centred framework, Jesus spent most of his time navigating the actual issue of love, human and divine, rather than disconnected theology about God. I have come to realise that abstract love is lovely, but it stinks in the stark reality of daily life. Setting ego and background aside, are the first and challenging principles in actual listening, whether it be in words spoken, or written on a page.
 Richard Paul Elder and Linda Elder, Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking Concepts & Tools, 7th ed., Thinker’s Guide Library (Amazon Digital Services : Kindle Edition, 2014).
 Ibid. Loc 29
 Ibid. Loc 108
 Jean-Francois Kervegan, The Actual and the Rational: Hegel and Objective Spirit, 1st ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2018). see chapter 10
 Robert Wicks, Availability: The Spiritual Joy of Helping Others (The Crossroad Publishing Company, 2000). 42
Elder, Richard Paul, and Linda Elder. Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking Concepts & Tools. 7th ed. Thinker’s Guide Library, Amazon Digital Services : Kindle Edition, 2014.
Kervegan, Jean-Francois. The Actual and the Rational: Hegel and Objective Spirit. 1st ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2018.
Wicks, Robert. Availability: The Spiritual Joy of Helping Others. The Crossroad Publishing Company, 2000.